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Posted Jul 28, 2003

Oracle Optimizer: Moving to and working with CBO - Page 2

By Amar Kumar Padhi

1. What is Optimizer?

In Oracle, a query may be executed in more than one way. The execution plan that has the best ranking or the lowest cost is the one that will return output with the fastest rate and optimal utilization of resources. The execution plan is generated by the Optimizer. Optimizer is an 'engine' running in the database that is dedicated to deriving a list of execution paths based on various conditions and then choosing the most efficient for running a query. Once an execution plan choice is made, it is then carried out to arrive at the output.

In Oracle, Optimizer relates to DML statements.

2. Why Optimize?

You know it! Optimizing a query aims at executing it in the shortest time and with optimal use of resources, thus making it fast and efficient. By resources, here I mean CPU utilization, hard disk I/O, memory consumption and to some extent, network operations. Irrespective of how big or rich your server is in terms of these resources, improper or sub-optimal queries will always be expensive and may drag your session or impact other process on the server.

The extent to which a query is expensive will depend on lot of factors, including the size of the result set to be fetched, the size of the data being scanned to retrieve the result set and the load on the system at that point in time. Proper optimization of statements will save your users lot of runtime wastage and unwanted resource utilization.

3. Available Optimizers

Oracle has two modes for Optimizer to decide on the best execution plan, Rule based and Cost based. This article concentrates on Cost Based Optimizer and Rule based is described in brief.

3.1 Rule Based Optimizer (RBO)

RBO follows a simple ranking methodology. Fifteen ranking points are designed in this optimizer. When a query is received, the optimizer evaluates the number of points that are satisfied. The execution path with the best rank (lowest number) is then chosen for executing the query. The fifteen-point ranking is mentioned below.

  1. Single row by ROWID
  2. Single row by cluster join
  3. Single row by hash cluster with unique or primary key
  4. Single row by unique or primary key
  5. Cluster join
  6. Hash cluster key
  7. Indexed cluster key
  8. Composite key
  9. Single column indexes
  10. Bounded range on index columns
  11. Unbounded range on indexed columns
  12. Sort merge join
  13. MAX or MIN on indexed column
  14. ORDER BY on indexed columns
  15. Full table scan

For example, If I fire a query on a table that has two columns that are searched for exact match (equal-to) in the where clause condition, one being the primary key and the other column has a non-unique key, RBO will prefer the primary key (rank 4) to the non-unique key (rank 9).

When more than one table is accessed in a query, the optimizer needs to decide which should be the driving table. The RBO generates a set of join orders, each with a different table as the first table. Then the most optimal plan is chosen from the resulting set of execution plans.

The optimizer evaluates the execution plans for various conditions such as (fewest nested-loop, fewest sort-merge joins, table with the best ranking access path, etc.). If there is still a tie, the optimizer chooses the execution plan for which the first table appears later in the query's FROM clause. Hence, it is a conventional coding practice to put the driving table at the extreme right, followed by other tables in order of access in the FROM clause, i.e., the ordering of tables based on their access is from right to left.

Please note that the operators being used for searching the columns also play a role in deciding the ranking. Sometimes even the age of an index is considered for ranking!

For example the below table shows what index is used if column1 and column2 have indexes on them and if both are being referred in the where clause with "=" operator.


 select * from am79 where col1 = 1 and col2 = 'amar';
      -- here both col1 and col2 are indexed. 

              Normal index types                   |     Index used in RBO
 column1(a)     column2(b)    column1+column2(c)   |     
 non-unique                       non-unique             c
 non-unique       non-unique                             a + b
 non-unique       non-unique      non-unique             c
 unique           non-unique                             a
 unique                           non-unique             a
 unique           unique                                 b (the most recent index created)
 unique           unique          unique                 c
 -The above is tested on Oracle
 -In case of non-unique single column indexes, both indexes are used.
 -In case of unique indexes, they are not combined for execution plan, any one is taken.
 -Preference is given to the index available with the "=" operator column, than with
 others operators.
 -Don't create bitmap & function-based indexes, these will not work in RBO.

RBO was the preferred choice for most setups in earlier releases of oracle as the execution paths were consistent and uniform. Queries would behave the same way if run on different databases of the same application.

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